Friday, April 17, 2015

Shetland Islands

     Twister did not set any records in the ca 200 mile passage to Shetland. She arrived Lerwick, Shetland Islands, (Scotland, United Kingdom) the evening of Thursday April 16 three and a half days out of Ask√ły (Bergen), Norway.
Bergen looking lovely after a fresh dusting of snow
     I won't deny being more than a little nervous on departure day: the forecast did not promise a fast and comfortable passage and it had been more than a year and a half since Twister had sailed the open ocean. As is often the case, the anticipation was worse than the reality, but it was not trade wind sailing (ie downwind). The lowest moment was the afternoon of the first day. As always, the inside passage of the Norwegian west coast provided comfortable sailing. Soon after passing Marstein light (which marks one of the main entrances to the fjord system around Bergen) and entering the open ocean the northerly breeze died, but there was plenty of confused seas left over from days of strong wind from various directions. Twister was pitching and rolling with great gusto and the sails were slatting maddeningly. It's a special kind of irony being tossed about due to lack of wind as one is dreading upcoming gales. The southerly breeze arrived around sundown and was soon blowing at gale force (just an estimate). Twister made fast work of the first 100 miles, but then, as forecast, the winds turned westerly. The next two days were spent beating into and tacking into the westerlies making slow progress in the desired direction (west).
Using the storm jib on the inner forestay made for much more comfortable sailing than using a small patch of the roller furler genoa. The winds eased the evening of day 3 (Wednesday) and by Thursday around noon, they had died, leaving Twister 30 miles from Lerwick and 20 miles to some nearer islands (Out Skerries) but which I suspected did not have pub, the population being around 10. Grudgingly I started the engine and motored most of the remaining distance (some sailing with intermittent puffs of northerly breeze) to Lerwick. 
Land Ho - Isle Of Noss
Two Sailboats From Bergen - Twister and Statsraad Lemhkuhl
     As I pulled into the rather cozy (ie tight) small boat harbor, nature (which had been calling most inopportunely) became insistent and I managed to maneuver Twister back into the larger main harbor before I had to run below and leave her to her own devices for a minute or two. The joys of singlehanded sailing ;)    Fortunately we did not run into anyone or anything and in short time we found a nice floating pontoon to tie up to and soon your humble blogger was belly up to the bar at a nearby pub enjoying a proper pint and later a deep-fried haggis. 
     Friday morning I was surprised to see Statsraad Lehmkuhl, a 3-masted brig from Bergen, dock nearby. She apparently took two days from Bergen. 
     I arrived The Shetland Islands just in time to enjoy some (I suspect) unseasonably nice weather for the next  couple of days (see weather map below - The Shetland Islands are directly under the H in the high pressure system). 

Shetland High
Update Saturday 18 April: Departing Lerwick this afternoon. Heading to Whalsay (Whale Island), only 12 or so miles to the north. Then a visit to The Valhalla Brewery on the island of Unst (father north) might be in order. If I feel intrepid after that, the journey will continue counterclockwise around Shetland. If not, then I may take advantage of the moderate westerlies forecast for the later part of next week and head back to Bergen. In any case, I may not have internet access for a few days or more, possibly not before returning to Norway. 


  1. Epic shot of Twister and the Statsraad!
    Pyxie is getting a thorough scrubbing this weekend. I don't know if it tickles, but she's squirming about, tugging her moorings to break free. It's high time she got to spread her sails.
    Hope you're having a grand time and enjoying the malted beverages.

  2. NW passage in your future?

  3. I have been contemplating the NW passage but don't think I want to do it alone. Anyone want to join me?